Professional Spotlight: Phil Slaght
What has your experience with Aurora been like since joining?
Energizing comes to mind first. While I had a consulting practice of my own prior to joining the firm, I was in my own world since I was a one-man shop. Since coming to Aurora, I have had the opportunity to meet and work with some very talented people at the firm, as well as working closely with our clients. It sounds corny but immersing yourself in challenges and helping clients develop and implement solutions is invigorating. It’s similar to the challenge of competition.
What do you like most about Aurora?
The people. In the short time here, I have built many friendships with colleagues with varying backgrounds and experiences. The talent and diversity in experience that the firm brings to any engagements allows the firm to be flexible to the challenges our clients face. The ability to be agile when evaluating client issues is critical to success. The diversity of Aurora’s talent allows us to address client needs across a wide range of issues.
How did you get involved within this Industry?
Prior to joining Aurora, I had my own consulting practice. I was engaged by a client as Interim CFO, and quickly determined that I needed to take a turnaround approach with the client. It was a challenge that allowed me to get involved in every aspect of the company. While the work was difficult, and at times trying, I found that I enjoyed the challenges. There was something different to deal with daily, and sometimes more often.
What have been some of your more important or gratifying engagements?
The most important engagements have been assisting management, especially executive management, with understanding root cause and developing solutions. Too often, management gets stuck in the mud of everyday issues and loses sight of critical operational and strategic problems that are the underlying catalyst for their problems. Working closing with clients to understand issues, developing the solutions, and then implementing those solutions with success is the ultimate gratification. Simple example: Client could not understand why a certain product line was not making money. Their production system was not sophisticated enough to produce financial analysis at a product-by-product level. We developed a solution to extract data from different systems to be able to perform analysis at a product level. We determined they had several products that were making zero, and in some case less than zero, margin.
For someone starting out in the industry, what advice would you give?
Take time to listen to your clients. And listen intently. Too often, professionals will pontificate on their skills and experiences in order to impress or build confidence from a client, or potential client in the case of pitch meeting. We can be over eager to suggest solutions or ideas that should be vetted before we jump to conclusions. Spend time understanding the client’s issues, perspective, concerns and what they expect from an engagement. Sounds simple, but more often professionals want to get started and dive into financial reports and analyses. It is critical to connect with your client. The most effective way is by sitting down and listening.
What kinds of hobbies and interests do you have outside of work?
I grew up boating with my family on Lake Erie. My wife and I have a boat that we can cruise on and stay overnight at different ports. Our three boys are old enough now to help care for the boat and operate it. It is wonderful family time. I am a fan of most sports, and even though it is very frustrating, Cleveland’s sports teams. I golf poorly, but I figure is always good to make the client happy by letting them best me on the course.
Read a recent Industry Insight piece by Phil here